Hi everyone! Happy New Year! I hope everyone managed to have as good a Christmas as they could considering the circumstances.I wish I could say that we’ve had a happier start to a new year, but we seem to be in amongst a second (and far worse) wave of COVID-19 right now and a looming national lockdown (what number is this?). I wish I came bearing a happier blog post considering how dampened down everybody is from the pandemic; but over the holiday’s, I’ve felt it necessary to highlight a global pandemic from not only the perspective of an NHS ICU Nurse, but one who has a chronic condition that makes it 4x more likely to die from COVID-19 if I ever do catch it.
Earlier this week, Matt Haig, shared this post to his socials, including instagram and twitter
“I don’t know who needs to hear this but people with underlying medical conditions have lives just as valuable as others”.
I would be lying if this didn’t strike chord. There it is, in black and white. What so many of us have been trying to say since last March. All I have been hearing lately is “ah yes, but they had an underlying condition” or “let the virus spread throughout the entire population because most of us are healthy” or something along the lines of “well, only 0.05% of people with COVID actually die”. I cannot tell you how many tears i have cried over the blatant ignorance of not just these opinions, but the public.
All of us have experienced and continue to experience this pandemic in different ways. We’ve all had different stresses and it’s important to note that nobody’s stress has been greater than someone else’s. But, I can’t even begin to explain how scary this has been, whilst not only trying to manage a chronic condition, and avoid catching a potentially deadly virus, but also being an intensive care nurse in the midst of it all. But this is also the same way as someone cannot tell me how scary it has been for them to be WFH with the threat of losing their job for the past 10 months.
For far too long I’ve held my tongue in public when people cannot stick to the rules and when I’ve relentlessly scrolled through the ungodly 5G and hoax tweets with tears in my eyes. Most of the time, it’s not been the fear of getting the virus for me. It’s been the sheer *ignorance* of the general public. Because that ignorance is what’s putting mine, and so many other’s lives, at risk.
How hard is it really to wear your mask properly (especially considering I can go an entire 13 hour shift in an FFP3/KN95 and still do CPR, 20,000+ steps a day and hold the hands of dying children)?
How hard is it to wear your mask properly, or even at all? I cannot tell you how many tears I’ve cried into my mask on public transport when someone has got too close to me without a mask on (look – I know certain people are exempt, but we also know people abuse the system of exemption and if you do happen to be exempt, please just be aware you still need to keep your distance), or has the absolute audacity to wear their mask under their chin or nose (FYI – If we can intubate you through your nose, you can spread a virus that way too!).
How difficult is it for you to stay inside unless absolutely necessary? Yes this is difficult. It’s an adaptation most of us have had to make. We’ve had brief sighs of relief from the virus in past months and it’s been totally okay to go to a restaurant and to your friends providing you stick to the rules and you’re safe. But when you flee London 2 days before christmas and join a train ride with thousands of others doing the same thing or carry on booking your holiday’s to Dubai, you have NO right to complain when stricter rules are imposed.
How hard is it for you to keep your distance from me in the supermarket, (the reason I no longer physically shop) on public transport, or in the street?
It’s the sense that those of us with underlying conditions, or are in the NHS as nurses or doctors or even cleaners and housekeepers, those who are in the minorities such as the BAME community; the elderly and vulnerable, it’s me and all of those people who feel as if they are carrying the weight of other people’s irresponsibility right now. Not only are those of us with underlying medical conditions navigating the foreign waters of managing our own complex medical needs in the midst of a pandemic and doing so with limited healthcare resources (a lot of my healthcare team have been redeployed to help with COVID), but we have to watch every single one of those efforts unduly undone by the anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and rule-breakers.
I feel as if I’ve done my upmost best to protect those around me; my fellow colleagues, my fellow spoonies, my friends, my family. I’ll happily admit, I’ve not been perfect. I’ve learnt several lessons and have had a few scares. But the thing is… this pandemic isn’t new anymore. There are a few simple rules to stick by, and they aren’t hard. There also seems to be an ignorance when it comes to the public’s perception of what those of us with conditions do. I was never ever on the shielding list back when it was imposed. I carried on going to work for 13 hour shifts, using public transport, treating children and their families, and living with the carelessness of housemates that refused to give up their weekly oxford street shopping habit because it was “Just too hard”. You can try to pretend carelessness like this is justified, but it just… isn’t. You can carry the attitude that those with underlying conditions should just “stay inside”, but the truth is, we still have to work and live our lives and try and protect ourselves.
I am exhausted. We are all exhausted.